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July 27th, 2012
10:33 PM ET

What's at stake for Romney in Israel

By Tom Foreman and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

(CNN)—Mitt Romney will be glad handing and photo opping in Israel until Monday during the second leg of the presumptive GOP nominee's international campaign trip.

It is unmistakably aimed, in part, at a traditional Democratic voting bloc: Jewish Americans who are politically active in fundraising, campaigning and voting.

"I think Mitt Romney is going to Israel certainly to court the Jewish vote," said Randall Balmer, the chairman of the religion department at Dartmouth College and author of "God in the White House."

"It's definitely sending a message that Israel is important for Romney, that he, he has warm feelings about Israel, that he cares about Israel," said Nathan Guttman, a Washington correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward. "It's sort of important for this kind of a Jewish electorate. But again, we should keep in mind that this is the minority of Jewish voters."

He added, "Most of them are Obama voters to start with; they won't be swayed by it; they don't really care much."

But Romney may have an even larger voting bloc in mind during his trip.

"The constituency he wants to impress is the evangelicals, people who have an unequivocal support for Israel," Balmer said. "This is the constituency that was quite suspicious of him in the course of the primaries, and in may ways he hasn't fully won them over."

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories

Meanwhile, President Obama appears to be trying to undercut the impact of the visit with either faction of the Jewish vote.

The White House released another $70-million in military aid for Israel on Friday, saying it underlines the president's "unshakeable commitment" to that American ally.

Much has been made over perceived chilly relations between the Obama administration and the current administration in Israel.

The president won the vast majority of votes by Jewish Americans in 2008. A recent Gallup Daily tracking poll showed registered Jewish voters preferred Obama 68% to 25% over Romney.

Several conservative activists have told CNN that Romney's trip to Israel is an important step in trying to strengthen his support among evangelicals and conservatives. The activists say that the trip will help reassure them about the former governor of Massachusetts.

Romney has struggled to win over many social conservatives who felt that his past positions on social issues were too liberal and many evangelicals who raised theological concerns over Romney's membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Countless Christian evangelicals are indeed staunch supporters of Israel, citing a Biblical kinship with the Jewish nation.

Their interest in Israel's well-being has motivated a number of Republican contenders to visit the Holy Land and speak out for Israeli rights.

One key group is Christians United for Israel, which has more than a million members and politically conservative leaders who have expressed disappointment over Obama's sometimes tense relationship with Israel.

"American Christians, Americans in general, are going to want to see Governor Romney treat Israel and treat Prime Minister Netanyahu with a respect and an appreciation," said Christian United for Israel's Executive Director David Brog. "Many of us feel (that respect) has not been present, has been lacking in the current administration."

"Unlike other issues, this issue is still in play," Brog continued. "When it comes to the issue of foreign policy, and when it come to the issue of how a president will deal with our ally Israel and our struggle with radical Islam, people are still waiting for information, minds are still open. And this is where governor can influence voters and pick up significant support."

Some Christians, known as Christian Zionists, believe that the Jews' return to Israel, which became a Jewish state in 1948, is a sign of the approaching Rapture, when the righteous will ascend to heaven while others are left behind.

Background: Mideast action at U.N. casts spotlight on Christian Zionism

The Rapture, many evangelicals believe, will usher in an apocalyptic period that will culminate in Jesus' return. Some Christians believe that keeping Israel in Jewish hands will help expedite that scenario.

Activists, academics and religious believers disagree about how such apocalyptic thinking may affect Christian support for Israel.

Many other Christians and Jews see such a scenario as a radical interpretation of scripture. Brog dismisses the notion that theology about the end times could boost support of Israel. "This is simply one of those urban myths," he said.

Still, it all raises the stakes on Romney's Israeli visit; making it clear this trip will be closely watched by American voters on both the left and the right.

CNN's Dan Gilgoff and Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Israel • Judaism • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (761 Responses)
  1. oodoodanoo

    "A recent Gallup Daily tracking poll showed registered Jewish voters preferred Obama 68% to 25% over Romney."

    Because (most of the time) Jews are smart and they're American patriots. Stupid domestic policies and stupid foreign policy (like blinding following Netanyahu) alienate them. Obama has been plenty accommodating to Netanyahu, and they know it.

    Go ahead, evangelicals. Call 68% of Jews self-haters for seeing Israeli relations properly.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Arvoasitis

    For anyone wishing a historical perspective on events in the Middle East, I can do no better than recommend the historical novel called "The Source," by James Michener. It beats any actual history I have tried to read because it reflects the thinking of a well-informed and intelligent author who is able to present three interpretations on events by three archeologists (a Roman Catholic, a Jew and a Muslim) during a excavation of a fictional city. The city is fictional but the events are historical and ring true to life.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  3. Reality

    Dear Messrs. Obama and Romney,

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: And how many “souls” would be saved?

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses probaby never existed.

    prob•a•bly

    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    BOTTOM LINE: SAID SAVINGS WOULD PAY FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE !!!!

    July 28, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • harpo

      the AHA pays for itself.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  4. paul

    Mitt will probably stumble and bumble and say something not appropriate about Jewish religion. Then, he will try to spin it and say what I really meant to say is......"It's Obama's fault". He is simply not a good representative of the United States.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I agree Paul, it reminds me of the cliche sound bites it seems 95% of athletes use to answer questions. "I just wanted to stay withing myself and my the team better" "It doesn't matter how you win just get the W" "I just tried to take it one play at a time" "Hi Mom" "He always gives 110 percent" "We're taking it one game at a time" "Yeah yeah absolutely naw what I mean?"

      July 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  5. JR in Texas

    When I read “Sports Fan’s” minutia drivel I am reminded of a man I met in group therapy. He continually interrupted conversations and always spoke off-subject until another patient attacked and beat him senseless. We never saw either of them again.

    July 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      LOL JR, that's reminds of the Pacers–Pistons brawl (colloquially known as the Malice in the Palace). It was an altercation that occurred in a National Basketball Association game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers on November 19, 2004, at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

      With less than a minute left in the game, a fight broke out between players on the court. After the fight was broken up, a drink was thrown from the stands at then Pacers player Ron Artest while he was lying on the scorer's table. Artest then entered the crowd and sparked a massive brawl between players and fans. Classic Ron Ron!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    When he arrived in Tel Aviv, they should ask him a trivia question like what is the Capitol of Israel? Perhaps he would have to consult with his advisors for the answer...Duhhhhh...the answer is at you feet Robme! You're standing in Tel Aviv! Haha!

    July 28, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • harpo

      he thinks it is Salt Lake City. I would ask him about the Mormon cult's practice of baptizing dead jewish children and war hweros in abstentia then claming that they were really mormons, at this rate it will be 6 millon mormons who were murdered in the Holocost.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Vietnam Vet

    Mitt has to be the biggest disgrace ever to the repub party.I left the party because of him and the congress being so right wing they decide to spit on vets and seniors. How on earth did we get stuck with a man who believes his Underwear is Magical and has powers to protect him from evil.Mitt belongs in a padded room.If he eve became president he would be a laughing stock for being a cowardly draft dodger and a tax evader.The rest of the world would wonder how we could ever elect such a shallow man,a fellon,wackjob cult Bishop.I hope all American see how shallow Romney is and reject the draft dodger,Romney spit on all our faces in the military when we gave it our all to protect this nation he ran to france to recruit cultists and pass out Mormon Magical Pantys just like he and his fellow cultists wears.MITT YOUR A SICKO WACKJOB,DRAFT DODGING,TAX FELON CULTIST.......GO JUMP OFF A CLIFFF AND DO US ALL A FAVOR YOU COWARD!!!!!

    July 28, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      This country elected B-movie actor Ronald Reagan for two terms who then ran the largest budget deficit in history (a mess the Dems had to clean up) and sold arms to Iran. Don't even get me stated on his policy regarding HIV/AIDS.

      This country elected a mentally challenged George Bush not once, but twice who increased debt spending over 5 Trillion (which the Dems now have to clean up yet again) and oversaw the collapse of the banks. Don't even get me started on Iraq and Katrina.

      If this country will vote for these two dip-sh.its, they will vote for ANYBODY.

      Folks, it is time to push the GOP, Big Business, Big religion and special interests OUT and take back what is ours. Keep Obama in the white house, fill the seats with Dems. VOTE and don't be afraid to debate with friends and family. The time to be PC is over, it is time to speak out!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • harpo

      Israel will never allow a non-christian who adheres to an anti-semetic cult that was founded for no other reason than as an attempt to justify pedophelia as religious freedom.

      Any cult that baptises dead Jewish heros and children then calims they were actually mormons is an insult israel will not forgive.

      even if Americans are fool enough to follow a guy who takes advice from his skivvies, Israel would never allow it. why do you thinnk netenyahu keeps talkng about Onama being the best friend Israel has ever had in the white house......

      He knows what the alternative is......

      July 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  8. Mormonism and other world religions explained

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtX_R-V5Cws&w=640&h=360]

    July 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  9. norm

    Obama's shaky relationship with Israel is the only reason I might have to vote for him. Romney is Netanyahu's "good buddy", and that's guaranteed to secure our position as Israel's lap dog if Romney wins.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      You said Obama's "shaky" relationship is the only reason why you might vote for Romney? Well, perhaps you havent' realize that the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Obama administration are the most stringent sanctions imposed on any nation in the modern era. And by the way, Mitt Romney vows to continue the very same failed, misguided and ineffective polices of GWB which include wavering and turning the other cheek while Iran has been escalating the enrichment of uranium for a decade!

      July 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Ken

      Sounds to me like Mitt intends to "lead from behind" Isreal. President Obama is a true leader.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • harpo

      I don’t know what tea party site you got that info from but…..Boy do you have it wrong, do you read any Israeli news?

      Netanyahu has been declaring Obama as Israel's best friend for months and even gone so far as to ask Jews in the US to stop supporting the GOP and support Obama. Even Adelson dumped Gingrich….. why do you think Gingrich started selling autographs.

      You have to understand that no Jew wants an anti-semite in office (pedophile cult or not) and the common practice of baptizing dead Jewish heroes and children then claiming they were Mormons is an insult Israel will not forgive.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  10. kathy

    Can't wait to hear how this moron screws this visit up too. I hope the people of Isreal realize he is pandering to them to attract the Jewish vote in the US and boo him as he so justly deserves.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of Pac Man Jones who was given so many opportunities to succeed but just couldn't stay away from gun violence and "Scrip" clubs. He is still in the league though, so who knows!!

      July 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Vietnam Vet

    Way to go Mitt your an embarassment to our best ally in the world. I guess your fellow anglo saxons are not buying your bs huh mitt? Do America a favor and turn around and come back to America before you embarass the USA any more and make more enemies. Wanna impress people??? Then show us your tax returns you have been hiding and show us you have been an honest businbess man then you will show some credibility,otherwise you will be just considered an out of touch millionair who bet against the american worker and dollar by putting your money off shore and dodged taxes ................SHOW US THE RETURNS MITT,THIS WILL NOT GO AWAY,JUST LIKE YOU DODGING THE DRAFT IN VIETNAM. When I was fighting in the jungles in Vietnam you ran to france to recruit more cultists and give out free Mormon Magical Underwear while my friends were getting slaughtered by the vietcong......I used to be a repub till Romney became our candidate.I cannot vote for a man so dishonest and un patriotic. Many veterans like myself look and Romney as a slap in the face to all vets,Romney also is for cutting vet programs .Havent the vets suffered enough Mitt????? Oh wait you wouldnt know anything about sacrafice......... Take your yellow Mormon skidmarked Magical Underwear back to Utah in shame where the other cultists live and jump off a cliff,we do not want you or your cult cowardly self representing us.I was a repub till the draft dodging coward became our candidate.He is a Phoney just like his religion that was made up by a con man child molester..........

    July 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Democrates

    The tax hike that President Obama is calling for is for those making $250,000 and more. If you make $70,000 you won't be taxed. By the way, I'm so appaled by the right accusing the President of class warfare or of trying to punish the rich because that is not true. Since the onset of this crisis, millions of American workers in both the public and private sector have had to make painful sacrifices where they see their salaries decreased, been deprived of promotions and pay raises that they've earned, have been forced to accept forlough days without pay, have been forced to contribute at least 7% of their salaries to their pensions while others have been forced to retire without the opportunity to create a safety net for their grandchildren. Millions of low income working Americans have also been deprived of their Earned Income Tax Credit, all this while the rich have been given tax breaks. That is called REVERSED CLASS WARFARE! And by the way, if you;re a republican, conservative, or Tea Partier and you are unemployed or have friends that are unemployed, please DONT accuse the President of inflating the national deficit while you collect food stamps and unemployment benefits that were made possible by the stimulus bills. That is called HYPOCRISY.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  13. JR in Texas

    Romney, a Mormon, is courting right wing Christian evangelicals by sucking up to Netanyahu, a right wing Israeli Jew. OK I think I’ve got it straight now. Whew……….how stupid.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of how David Beckham missed a great opportunity to impress Team GB coach Stuart Pearce as the LA Galaxy lost 1-0 at home to New York Red Bulls on the weekend. He was then regulated to driving the boat with the torch at the end of the opening ceremonies!

      July 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  14. DJR

    It truly is an example as to how things are one in the same in the Prez race. Going to Israel for votes? Sorry that's just not part of the campaign trail. Oh the desirer of the God/caesar groups who are so lost and so not in touch with the mob.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of the Los Angeles struggle to get a new NFL stadium built. It is a catch 22! No stadium, no team, but you can't build a stadium unless you have a team.

      July 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  15. HeavenSent Blog

    Hello and welcome to the HeavenSent blog. This is YOUR opportunity to voice your HeavenSent opinions!

    Please frame your posts to best preach to Atheists about the dangers of a Godless life-style.

    Here are some suggested key words to get you started:

    Hey-Zues
    Personal worm that feeds off them, is never quenched, for eternity
    Believing the lies of satan that they will be collectively mini-gods
    Do as the atheists do in this country to ensure the USA goes belly up
    Too blind to see His truth whether I write it in street language or scripture form
    Jesus told us to send r-apists and murderers back to Him
    Atheists lie when they talk about freedom of speech
    He ran off all the Christians from the other site he oversaw
    That will be the end of you
    Itchy Ears
    God doesn't have favorites
    Carnal
    You're a putz, cough fool
    Liar against His truth
    Abide in Jesus' truth
    Prideful
    Stay on the wrong side of the gulf until you are blotted out for eternity
    Tommie Tom
    Scotty
    Minions of satan
    Prayer changes things
    Talmud
    Man-made lies of the talmud
    Jesus’ letter, the Bible
    God’s truth
    Jesus’ truth
    The truth
    Jesus Christ's truth are resurrected to eternity
    I am flying with Evil
    Boo hoo
    I know from Moe Curly of the 3 stooges that nothing works
    Truth
    Those that believe in Him go with Him to eternity
    Lies lies lies
    Fat drippings
    Personal worms
    Horrors, earth quakes, floods, disasters are God's wrath against all of us
    You fools doing evil
    You atheists
    Smug atheists
    Prideful atheists
    Amen
    Throw away that users manual
    Prayer really works
    No eyes to see or hear His truth
    Blotted out for eternity
    Burn burn burn for all eternity
    Writing your filth
    True Christians
    The liar satan
    Snakes in your Belly
    Athiests at CNN
    They are blocking my posts again
    Dead bones
    Logic?? I don't require a single shred to define my beliefs
    You must like worms
    Pay no attention to the small minded fools that got their brain fried
    Read back through the previous articles for over a year dummy
    I know you atheists to be fools
    Notice who is most quoted in the Golden rule. Jesus Christ's wisdom
    You believing something doesn't make it true
    I'm not holding my breath
    You own those labels
    Humble yourself and ask Jesus for forgiveness
    Reprobate minds
    Jesus told us he would give you reprobate minds
    After their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears
    Satan's lies causes confusion
    Atheists write this garbage
    Satan is death
    You are fooling yourself if you don't tell gays they suffer for eternity
    Tortured for eternity
    Pathetic
    Blame it on the Christians for having the guts to tell idiots God's truth
    Your father Satan
    End of days taught in Jesus' truth is nothing new to Christians
    Another rock. Nothing new under the sun
    You insist on your lies having wings to fly
    You are still a pigeon
    The entire MO behind the atheist is to throw out as many lies and see what sticks
    Debating is the atheists game
    Satan impregnated Eve with Cain
    I know you atheists to be fools
    Christians are on these articles to ensure Jesus Christ's truth is posted
    Start your walk with Jesus
    Blinded by satan's lies
    Test from God. Do you have what it takes to pass?
    Serpent is just one of the multiple names of Lucifer aka satan
    The big bang and evolution are lies against Jesus’ truth to cause doubt, creating confusion
    Satan's lies are built on quick sand foundation
    What part of Jesus' truth is clarity and satan's lies are confusion do you not comprehend?
    There are no flaws in His word
    Jesus' truth stands for eternity
    Get over your obsession with me
    Lions and tigers and bears, oh my
    Rocks, everywhere on this site, rocks
    Seeds of Jesus falling on rock.
    Stepping over His seeds that get blown by the wind to find their way to fertile grounds
    Typical of swines trampling
    It's obsessive compulsion to grab at any straw to give a reason not to learn or understand
    Go back to posting under my handle and answering yourself
    Scott
    Get a life and try to grow
    Singular swine using multiple handles.
    You still continue to refuse to learn your heritage
    I've posted the answer numerous times
    I'm glad the line from the movie Secretariat sticks in your mind
    Statistics prove that the more devout someone is, the higher IQ they have
    Read the Bible. It is 100 percent accurate in every facet
    It makes me smile to know that people will be tortured in hell for eternity
    He steals their handles to write his evil
    You atheists steal my handle to post your evil will
    Reap the sword of the Lord Jesus when He returns
    Stealing our handles
    Why are you lying?
    Get an education to His truth
    What's your point small god savior?
    I expect foolish thinking from an atheist
    Jesus’ wisdom is roaring it's ugly head throughout the world
    The atheist that hijacks my handle to spew their lies
    Hhmmm, confused?

    Remember….Muslims, Jews and Atheists need not apply!

    Amen.

    Updated July 28, 2012 – Witnessed by Carl J. Westman

    July 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  16. ugot2bkidden'

    Well, he's already visted our most trusted friendly nation, and only democracy in the entire region, more than Obama has during his entire 31/2-years as president. From reading some of these blogs, sounds like you would rather he bow to one of our back-stabbing "friends" that we help support...oh, too late for that, Obama beat him to that punch.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of Dan Snyder, Jewish owner of the Washington Redskins NFL football franchise. He has tried to make moves over the years but most have bombed. But now he has RGIII and that could turn around their fortunes!

      July 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      A@hole!

      July 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  17. gop usa

    Step right up folks step right up at Romneys next campain stop he is giving out some goodies! First you will recieve some Mormon Magical Underwear that protects you from evil that only the most devout shall never take off.Next you will recieve the Book Of Mormon that the rapist,molester,conman murderer wrote to use as a tool to take advantage of his worshipers.Then you will recieve an autographed picture of Joesoph Smith who is the messiah for the mormons ,the conman who wrote the book of Mormon and made a perverted mockery out of the bible.You will also get directions on how to become a god when you die and travel to a planet named KOLOb that the mormons believe their god lives.Also you will recieve instructions on why all colored people are spawns of evil as the mormons teach. Sorry but MORMONS are nothing even cose to christians.They believe in polygamy,molestation,and the worship of Joesoph Smith the molester,murderer.The Mormons will deny this becauser they do not want to be arrested or persecuted by the public.This is why they are super secret because if people really knew what they were about they would be run out of town and rightfully so.Why on earth would anyone want a president in office who believes his underwear is magical.......he belongs locked up in a padded room for being a weirdo cultist.....Romney you can take you magical skidmarked underwear some where else but not the whitehouse you weirdo sicko..... I find it funny how many christian repubs are willing to look the other way and vote for a cult bishop and go against their own christian beliefs lol . I am a repub who cant stand the idea of Romney and his cult beliefs making laws and decisions that will impact us all without having a moral background. I will sit this election out till 2016 when repubs actually get a good candidate with some Morals and christian values,not cult polygamist values.....

    July 28, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  18. Mormons are the lost tribe of Isreal

    You Mitt lovers do know that Mormons are descended from Nephi -> a jew who fled Jerusalem and wound up in pre-America. Why do you think the real Mormons are so successful? watch "Der Ewige Jude" and hear the description and you will be illuminated.

    July 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I am reminded of the Miami Dophins logo, a dolphin back lit by an illuminating sun. Classic!

      July 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • harpo

      that would be a morm
      on myth.....

      the mormon church came out of a desire to justfy pedophilia as religious freedom. it has no connection to Chrstianity or Judaism.

      July 28, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  19. judy

    mitt the twitt will make an ass of himself as usual. Forward 2012

    July 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Can't wait for him to get to Israel:
    A couple of early projected Romney quotes:

    "We Americans want to give you Israelites a tip of the hat for giving us some great names for our towns and cities in Utah."

    ‎"You know what? For thousands of years, people thought Jerusalem Must Be The Place. But guess what? It's NOT!"

    July 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.